The Time Crunch

time crunch

Do you ever feel like you are perpetually losing a race with the clock? Do you feel like every day is a time crunch?

Sometimes I visualize myself standing on a precipice, with jagged rocks below, and there’s a dragon or polar bear (do not ask why it’s a polar bear… ok, fine, because Lost… stupid J.J. Abrams) threatening to devour me mercilessly. The creature is work, volunteer obligations, band rehearsals, doing grocery shopping, chores, etc. The precipice is the clock, and I’m there in the middle and all I want to do is play Fallout, or get a workout in, or read for a bit, or watch Archer.

Yes, this is melodramatic. Yes it’s an overstatement of the situation. And yes, feeling like you’re running out of time feels that ridiculous that you would create an overly elaborate metaphor to describe it sometimes.

Steve Kamb, published a great blog on this subject today. You can read the whole thing here. He uses a parable in the article that I loved so much I had to steal it:

A professor of philosophy stood before his class with some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly he picked up a large empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with rocks about two inches in diameter. He then asked the students if the jar was full.

They agreed it was full.

So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly and watched as the pebbles rolled into the open areas between the rocks. The professor then asked the students again if the jar was full.

They chuckled and agreed it was indeed full this time.

The professor picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. The sand filled the remaining open areas of the jar. If you put sand into the jar first, there is no room for the rocks or the pebbles. The same can be applied to your lives. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are truly important.

Sand fueling the Time Crunch

I’ve got a lot of sand in my life. In fact, I’m exceptionally good at collecting sand. I have a hard time saying no to things that are appealing to me. This is how I ended up on three non-profit boards, playing in three bands and working towards a nutrition certification, to mention a few things. It’s also how I managed to buy an X-Box recently (really, what WAS I thinking?) and how my DVR is cluttered with episodes of shows that originally aired almost a year ago.

I removed one stone from my jar recently by deciding that one of the non-profits I volunteer with has gotten enough out of me for a while. After serving on its board and as a committee chair for 10 years it was time to move on, at least temporarily. I’ve got a professionally obligated exam for a LEED designation later this month and I took a practice exam this weekend on which I did not do well, so that’s a stone that’s going into the jar (study, study, study).

Here’s my list of stones in my jar:

  • Sleep – I am far too prone to sacrifice this and will not do it this month
  • Workouts – I finish Insanity Max: 30 this week, will take a recovery week after that and start 21 Day Fix Extreme once my recovery week is done
  • Nutrition – Part of why I’m choosing to do 21DFX is to keep on point with my nutrition
  • Work – There are a multitude of things going on in my 9 – 5 job that really demand my full attention. Not to boast, but I’m stupidly good at what I do and I tend to take my foot off the gas too often because my coasting can look like someone else who has the pedal to the metal, but if I’m going to say to my kids that anything you do ought to be done well then I need to live that
  • LEED Exam Prep – Getting my Green Associate designation has been made a priority by the highest level within my organization, so I had better take it seriously
  • Personal Development – Not reading something or listening to something daily that boosts my spirit and stimulates my brain drags me down and allowing myself to be dragged down is adding sand to my jar I don’t need
  • Family Time – Preparing meals for my family, and spending time with my wife and my kids, if I were making a list ordered by priorities, would always be #1
  • Time To Ride – Riding a bike is meditation for me. It’s soul cleansing.
  • My Coaching Business & My Clients – Yup, you folks are important. I need to make sure you feel that way.

Sand that I’m pouring out of the jar:

  • TV – Archer and The Americans will be there when I have time for them
  • X-Box – Likewise, Destiny and Fallout will be there when I have time for them
  • Random Facebooking – Talk about a time suck
  • News – You know, the news is massively overrated. If something important happens my friends will let me know.
  • Making new commitments – Yup. Not gonna do it. No matter how awesome it looks.

I do plan to keep a journal of how it’s going here, daily. Not just to keep myself on track but on the off chance that it helps you folks with your own Time Crunch.

What are your stones and your sand? What are you keeping in your own jar that you ought to be pouring out?

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